So-Ock Kim

In by Alison Stewart

You have visited Jersey before.  Did you get a chance to have a look around the island and if so, what did you love about Jersey?  If you didn’t, what would you like to explore or take advantage of the most on a second trip?

I didn’t have much time to look around when I’ve been playing in the past but we liked what we saw of the island so much that my husband and I brought my mother-in-law over for a holiday a few years ago. However we lead such busy and stressful, hectic lives that when we’re away we like to just relax and enjoy the scenery. We sat on the beach and enjoyed the beautiful weather, food and the sea!

When, where and why did you start playing the violin?

I started at the age of 6 in London as my mother bought me a violin to try for fun.

Do you play any other musical instruments?

Piano and I dabbled with the flute, oboe and accordion (the latter three I could only manage Three Blind Mice!)

Is your family musical?  Please give details if necessary.

My sister plays the clarinet and piano recreationally and my cousin is an accompanist. My husband was a former professional violinist and his entire family have a musical background but I was the first in my family to play an instrument and to play to a professional level.

Describe for us where you are in your career journey.

I’ve had to decrease playing in the last few years due to some genetic joint issues and I have problems with my tendons and shoulder after an unfortunate operation. I am mainly teaching as a professor at the Royal Academy of Music but I do give the odd solo and chamber performance for charity. I don’t want to have to give up playing entirely as I do get asked to play and to make recordings but it is physically very difficult for me with my problems but we’ll just have to see how they develop.

What has been the most exciting thing to happen in your musical career in the past 12 months?

I have enjoyed performances with the Royal Philharmonic and Suwon Philharmonic orchestras playing the Tchaikovsky again which was the first piece I ever played with orchestra at the age of 9. Otherwise, a few chamber dates with friends and new acquaintances and meeting new students and musicians.

What are the highlights and low-points of the life of a soloist, travelling the world?

Highlights are meeting new, talented people and working with them. Low points are loneliness as a soloist travelling by oneself and practising alone and not having enough time to travel and explore the place where one is playing.

What or who inspires you to keep pursuing your musical career?

I have a baby boy now and I don’t want to fully give up playing yet so that perhaps one day he can see Mummy on stage and understand what I do/did. Also as a teacher I want to feel connected to what my students are doing and the experience I’ve had on stage should hopefully help them in their careers.

Why should young people take up playing an instrument?

It is good for the soul, mind and discipline. The luxury of having a skill to express oneself especially through something like music, whichever genre, is a powerful and wonderful thing and I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience that if they can.

As a tutor of musicians at the RAM can you give your best piece of advice to any aspiring music students who may read this interview?

Work extremely hard and be disciplined daily. Playing an instrument is like a sport on the one hand with daily training but also an art form and a performance as well so work in a multi-faceted way, know and absorb everything about music, experience, cultures, life, genres and spend every waking moment working efficiently and effectively.

And enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Tell us about the piece you’ll be playing including a little bit about the composer and why and when it was written.

Sibelius was a violinist but failed to make it as a successful professional so I think that in retaliation he wrote one of the most difficult violin concertos! It is a technically taxing work but filled with beautiful melodies and lots of passion!

If you could visit any musical period or see/meet/hear or play with any artist, what would you choose?

I’d love to hear Beethoven play the piano or hear Mozart or Bach perform and see how they themselves brought their scores to life and envisioned them as we can only make assumptions and guess from their scores how they may have wanted their works played and expressed and performed.